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Africa Focused News


by Dario Galluccio

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Ghana: Nigeria’s gas supply insufficient for energy push

Ghana has reaffirmed plans to develop its gas resources, which will aid a steam-driven thermal power generation push, as gas supply from Nigeria proves insufficient.

The West African Transnational Gas Pipeline (WAGP), established in 1982 to supply gas from Nigeria to neighbouring countries, was billed to provide 70 million cubic feet daily to Ghana, but currently delivers 50 million cubic feet — well below the agreement. In addition, the country’s demand for gas, which will drive an increase in energy output, has risen well above the maximum supply the regional pipeline can potentially offer, hence the need to develop its own resources.

The West African Gas Pipeline as designed today can only give us 170 million cubic feet. We need extra investment to be able to move from 170 to 240 in order to realise the full potential of that pipeline,” said Kirk Koffi, a deputy chief executive of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana.

According to Koffi, the future of Ghana’s energy was dependent on its ability to meet the local gas consumption, noting that the country could no longer rely on irregular supply from its West African neighbour.

Nigeria: Stock Exchange records $213.5m increase in market cap

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has recorded a N34 billion ($213.5 million) rise in its market capitalization, following positive returns on several blue chip stocks.

Tuesday’s trading, 22th October, at the bourse revealed a 0.29 percent appreciation from N11.905 trillion ($74.76 billion) at the start of business, to close at N11.939 trillion ($74.97 billion). An outcome that strengthens the Exchange’s target for a $1 trillion market cap by 2016. According to analysts, the stock appreciation is a result of its positive year-end earnings.

Companies that topped the gainers list include Forte Oil, which led the chart with a N6.58 ($0.04) gain to close at N70.88 ($0.45). Other gainers were Guinness Nigeria, with N6.06 ($0.038) to close at N246.02 ($1.54), and Nigerian Breweries, up to N176 ($1.1) after a N4 ($0.025) appreciation. Indigenous oil firm, Conoil, also managed a N1.92 ($0.012) gain to end the day N40.48 ($0.25).

Ghana: BoG disseminates 2012 Foreign Capital flow survey

Ghana continues to attract a significant share of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a survey conducted by the Bank of Ghana (BOG) has shown.

The BOG’s 2012 Foreign Private Capital flows survey which was launched in Accra on Wednesday by the first Deputy Governor, Mr Millison Narh, indicated that in 2012, Ghana was ranked as the third highest recipient of FDI flows in SSA during 2011 by the World Investment Report on account of the newly developed Jubilee Oil field. However, FDI inflows to Africa in general, declined for the third successive year, though at a much slower pace to 42.7 billion US dollars in 2011 from 43.1 billion US dollars; but excluding North Africa FDI inflows to Sub-Sahara African increased to 37 billion dollars in 2011 from 29 billion dollars in 2010.

The survey sample was selected among entities in all the regions except the two upper regions with the objective of capturing Ghanaian enterprises with foreign direct investment and borrowing. At the launching of the survey, the findings, together with data obtained from monetary and financial sources for private cross border liabilities, showed that the economy recorded total external liabilities of 27.9 billion dollars in 2011, from 24 billion dollars in 2010. “This reflected an accumulated inflow liability position of cross border capital of 3.9 billion dollars in a year”.

Nigeria: Tiger Brands pushes for 70% stake in Dangote Flour Mills

Tiger Brands Limited, a leading South African foods company, seeks to increase its stake in Dangote Flour Mills (DFM) to 70 percent.

At a recent Nigerian Stock Exchange filing, Tiger Brands, which currently holds 63.35 percent in the company, indicated interest in buying an additional 332.5 million ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.50 per share from minority shareholders to bring its stake to 70 percent. According to a report, Dangote Group will retain a 10 percent, Tiger Brands 70 percent, while other investors will have 20 percent.

Following the earlier acquisition of the 63.3 percent, the CEO of Tiger Brands, Mr. Peter Matlare, said he was “pleased with the successful conclusion” of the transaction, saying it would present growth opportunities for both organisations. He said the company would “go up to a maximum of 70 percent in total, leaving the balance in Nigerian hands.”

Rwanda: Chinese investors interested by Rwandan opportunities

A delegation of 20 Chinese investors from Zhenjiang Province has arrive in the country to assess the investment opportunities. While meeting officials from Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the group expressed interest in establishing light manufacturing plants for instance for the production of textiles. RDB CEO Valentine Rugwabiza noted that Rwanda is ready to assist them in their quest to invest in the country.

“Rwanda-Chinese relations are built on 46 years of continually improving commercial and diplomatic relations, and Rwanda offers one of the best business environments in the world which means that our government will provide you with all the required assistance as you plan to invest in Rwanda,” Rugwabiza said.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Justin Yifu Lin, a former chief economist and Senior Vice president at the World Bank and now a professor of Economics at University of Peking, China, said that investors want to tap into Rwanda’s labor force by creating factories that provide employment to thousands.

Helen Hai, an expert on China-Africa Investments, said that they were impressed by Rwanda’s efforts to facilitate investment in terms of business-friendly procedures and steady infrastructural development.

Rwanda has witnessed increased Chinese investment over the last five years, with over $219 million invested in sectors like construction, tourism and agriculture.

Ghana: 98% of working population economically active

According to the latest Ghana Living Standards Survey Labour Force report, only about 1.9 percent of the economically active population is unemployed.

The report says 75.7 percent of persons who are 15 years and above are economically active. The unemployment rate among 15 years and above is however higher in urban areas- about 3.6 percent than rural areas. The jobless rate is also higher among females-3.8 percent than males. It is higher among the age group 15-24 compared with 1.7 percent for the aged group 25-44 years.

A total of 21,554 persons were captured of which 10,486 were men and 11,068 were women.

With regard to the sector employment, 52.0 percent of persons who are 15 years and older are engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing. It is followed by wholesale and retail trade with 15.9 percent. 46.8 percent of the employed persons are self employed without employees.

Kenya: Real Estate investment trusts rules fail to pique market interest

Four months after the Real Estate Investment Trusts regulations were gazetted, the Capital Markets Authority is yet to register any Reit scheme or Reit managers. The regulations were created to introduce a new tool in the capital markets to spur investments, while allowing more people to own a share of the real estate market through the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

CMA is however yet to receive a single application from promoters seeking establishment of Reit schemes, a sign that the hype in the build up to the regulations may have been artificial as they are yet to pique investors’ interest. It has also not registered any Reit manager, signalling it will take longer before the first Reit is listed at the NSE. The CMA has however issued checklists and application forms for registration of Reit schemes, managers and trustees to guide the process.

Reits are meant to enable the public to buy unit trusts of listed schemes at the NSE and earn dividends from their investments. They have been structured into D-Reits (for developers) and I-Reits (for income).

The regulator said it is working closely with market participants to ensure clarity on regulatory requirements and address preliminary queries in order to encourage uptake of the new product.

South Africa: More funding for infrastructure projects

South Africa is to channel additional public funding into a number of priority infrastructure projects in the transport, communications and energy sectors, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told Parliament. Presenting his medium term budget policy statement in Cape Town, Gordhan said that billions of rands would be spent on the country’s digital broadcast migration project, rolling out new train coaches, and refurbishing research facilities for nuclear research.

As expected, Gordhan allocated additional funding to support the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s procurement of new rolling stock. The agency plans to purchase more than 300 six-car trains over the next decade, with initial deliveries expected in 2015/16. More investment was expected in other areas of transport, Gordhan said.

“Projects that will get under way soon include a new dam in the Eastern Cape, rehabilitation of the main roadway between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and a new coal-fired power station” he said.

Sierra Leone: IMF approves $96m credit facility

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a $96 million 3-year enhanced credit facility for Sierra Leone, as it plans to support economic development and poverty reduction in the country. When disbursed, the fund will assist in facilitating the country’s growth and investment plans.

Sierra Leone, which was torn apart by a civil war that lasted 11 years, is slowly recovering. Investor and consumer confidence have continued to rise, adding impetus to its economic recovery. Commending the West African nation’s progress, the IMF noted that the country, which has a population of over six million people, still faced several social and economic challenges, urging its government to step up efforts in strengthening public financial management.

Mr Min Zhu, IMF’s Deputy Managing Director, said the commission would seek to improve these conditions by enhancing revenue mobilisation. According to him, the country has achieved strong macro-economic gains in recent years, and the “facility would be critical to propel its fiscal strategy.” He listed remarkable components in Sierra Leone’s economic strategy, including tax administration improvements and the adoption of a comprehensive fiscal regime for the natural resources sector.

Zhu concluded by revealing that with the approval, the country could get around $13.7 million as first instalment.

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What next for Kenyan Policy on Somalia?

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by  Kennedy Opalo (Kenyan journalist)

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For two years it almost seemed too good to be true. Kenya had invaded Somalia and occupied Kismayo, a key Al-Shaabab-held city in southern Somalia without carnage visiting the capital Nairobi. The group instead opted for sporadic attacks against churches and police installations in the border regions of North Eastern and Coast. A few explosions rocked the capital, but these were never spectacular. Indeed, some of them appeared to have been motivated by local business rivalries and not some revenge mission by the Somali Islamist group Al-Shaabab. Within Somalia, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mission made quick gains that left Al-Shaabab backpedaling. With a few exceptions, the Al-Shaabab was reported to have been severely weakened and on the run. Before the recent uptick in bombings, Mogadishu was slowly becoming a reasonably peaceful boomtown.

And then Westgate happened. At around noon on September 21st three groups of armed men (and allegedly at least one woman) stormed the upscale mall in Nairobi and started shooting indiscriminately. Several hours after the attack started Al-Shaabab claimed responsibility via twitter. A day later, the Islamist group gave an alleged list of the gunmen, all men between the ages of 20-27. Six were from the US, two from Somalia, and one each from Kenya, the UK, Finland and Syria. More than 36 hours after the attack began at least 69 people had been confirmed dead, including one gunman and two Kenyan officers. A visibly incensed President Uhuru Kenyatta condemned the attacks, and reassured Kenyans of a swift response to punish the perpetrators. Just a few minutes earlier Al-Shaabab had claimed responsibility for the attacks, terming them a retribution for Kenya’s invasion of Somalia in 2011. The Kenyan Defence Forces, under Operation Linda Nchi, invaded Somalia following sporadic kidnappings and attacks along the Kenya Somalia border. The forces still remain in Somalia under the command of AMISOM.

So how will Kenya respond? There will be both short-term and long-term responses to the daring terrorist attack. The likely short-term response holds more risk, and may even jeopardize the strategic objectives of the long-term response.

Understandably, in the short-term there is going to be considerable public pressure for a swift military response from the government. In the coming weeks the government’s response will likely involve both domestic crackdowns in suspected Al-Shaabab havens in Kenya (most likely in Nairobi, the Coast and North Eastern regions) and military operations against Al-Shabab targets within Somalia.

Crackdowns within Kenya will come with a lot of risk. Depending on how they are carried out, the government could end up walking right into Al-Shaabab’s trap by alienating Kenyan Muslims and ethnic Somalis who make up the majority of residents in Coast and North Eastern regions of the country that border Somalia.

Ethnic Somalis (both Kenyan and Somali nationals) also make up the majority of residents in Eastleigh, a district of Nairobi that has in the past witnessed government crackdowns targeting cells linked to the Al-Shaabab militant group.

Kenyan security forces must therefore proceed with extreme caution to ensure that as few innocent civilians as possible are arrested or roughed up by security forces in any operations within the country. A repeat of reported cases of police brutality in North Eastern following the murder of army officers by gunmen would be a terrible mistake. It is also vital that the government stresses the unity of all Kenyans of all ethnic extractions against terror attacks. Any victimization of ethnic Somalis must be met with swift punishment.

Military operations within Somalia will likely involve significant cooperation with Mogadishu, pro-AMISOM militia in Jubaland, AMISOM and the US and may not be completely under the control of Nairobi. I suspect that Nairobi might push for a more aggressive hunt for the leaders of Al-Shaabab, including Samantha Lewthwaite a.k.a. the “white widow,” a British national that is rumored to have been the mastermind of the Westgate Mall attack. Lewthwaite, the widow of London 7/7/2005 suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay, is suspected to be on the run in Mombasa, Kenya with her four children. Crucially, any military operations in Somalia must be informed by analysts’ observation that it might be the case that Al-Shabaab is a group on the decline that is just lashing out to maintain relevance.

In the long-run, Nairobi will most likely push for a more robust Somali solution to the security crisis posed by the lack of a functional state in its backyard. Top on the agenda will be the strengthening of the security apparatus in the administration of Jubaland, the Somali state that is on the border with Kenya (For a detailed analysis of the situation in Jubaland see here). The creation of Jubaland has long been a goal of the Kenyan government as a buffer against the chaos that has been Somalia for the last two decades. Despite obvious objections from Mogadishu, Nairobi has never publicly denounced this policy goal. The brazen attack in the capital creates even more need for a strong buffer region that can help the Kenyan security forces to deal effectively with a terrorist group that appears desperate and willing to do just about anything to remain relevant. The success of this policy will depend on Mogadishu’s ability to veto it, and support from Ethiopia and AMISOM.

Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somaliland, Puntland and Kenya all have reasons to support the creation of Jubaland, or in general, a more decentralized state in Somalia. Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia remain wary of a potential rise in Somali nationalism and any irredentist attempts that might follow to unite all lands that make up the so called Greater Somalia – which would include the Ogaden in Ethiopia, North Eastern region of Kenya, and Djibouti. This is not a crazy fear. Mogadishu once attempted this in the late 1960s in a botched operation (in the Shifta and Ogaden wars) that ultimately led to a military coup and the rise of Siad Barre to power (See Laitin, 1976 [gated]). Ethiopia has the most to worry about regarding this potential risk. The Ogaden remains at the periphery of the Ethiopian state, giving the Somali population lots of reasons to rebel against Addis Ababa.

In the recent past Kenya has experienced an increasing level of integration of the Somali elite into the Kenyan state. Prominent Kenyans of Somali extraction include the leader of Majority in the National Assembly, the Foreign Minister, the Industrialization Minister, the head of the electoral management body (IEBC), among others.

Furthermore, many Somalis both Kenyan and from Somalia have in the recent past made significant investments in Kenya, most notably in the real estate sector. A lot of the investments have been means of laundering money got from illicit activities (some say including piracy). Indeed the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya is on record to have said that he could not account for billions of shillings in the economy. With an estimated total of only 20,000 mortgage accounts, most of the Kenya’s real estate boom has so far been financed by cash.

Yes, a lot more needs to be done for the average Kenyan of Somali extraction in North Eastern region, but the Somali elite in Kenya have every reason to not rock the boat and remain wedded to Nairobi. This same elite has so far tacitly supported Nairobi’s policy regarding the creation of an autonomous region in Jubaland.

The powerful imagery of a picture that went viral showing a Kenyan police officer, who also happens to be an ethnic Somali, carrying a baby while shielding three adults as they ran for safety at Westgate is hard to miss.

A domestic outcome of the Westgate attack will likely be greater scrutiny of the police and intelligence forces. The Kenyan police have been exposed in the past for having looked the other way in exchange for bribes to allow gun-runners to do their thing along the country’s highways. President Kenyatta will likely call for a cleaning of house both at Vigilance House and at the NSIS headquarters. All security agencies will likely see closer scrutiny from the political class and calls to pull up their socks. The minister in charge of internal security, Joseph Ole Lenku, probably has his days numbered on the job.

The quest for greater security will be completed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country on account of civil wars and general insecurity in the border regions with Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. According to a 2012 a study by the Small Arms Survey and the Kenya National Focus Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons, there are between 530,000 and 680,000 firearms in civilian arms across the country. The government must tighten its disarmament operations. Westgate has shown that AK-47s are not just the weapons of cattle rustlers, bank robbers and carjackers.

Will the reforms succeed? Very likely. The Kenya Revenue Authority is a testament to the fact that when it matters, the Kenyan government can reform key state institutions. The security sector is need of just such a reform drive. Insecurity is on the rise across the country, both from common criminals and organized gangs and terrorists. The Kenyan leadership appreciates that insecurity is not just bad in terms of risk to human lives. It is also bad for business.

If Mr. Kenyatta’s first term is to achieve even a modicum of success, the security sector must be reformed.

In all likelihood the president’s quest for a successful first term will outrank a few officers’ venal machinations within the administration. Police ineptitude in dealing with common petty and not-so petty crime creates loopholes for spectacular attacks like Westgate. Reform will therefore need to go beyond capacity building within the Special Forces and dedicated anti-terror units.

For regular Kenyans, life in Nairobi will never be the same again. It is almost impossible to imagine that things that most only read in the news could happen right at home; that a Saturday afternoon at the mall could turn into a ghastly massacre. It will take time before the capital, and the nation, finds its new normal, if at all it does.

So far Kenyans’ resiliency has been outstanding. People showed up in their thousands to donate blood. Buses in Nairobi lowered their fares to take people to blood donation points. More than 40 million Shillings has so far been raised through MPesa for affected victims. Never before in my life have I felt or seen this level of patriotism from fellow Kenyans.

I hope it sticks. Especially because the country will need it in the next few weeks and months as the government formulates and effects a response to the Westgate Mall attack.

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Africa Focused News


by Dario Galluccio

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Ghana: India enhances economic relations with Africa

The Indian High Commission has hosted its Fourth India-Africa Academic Conference dubbed: “India-West Africa: A Dynamic Relationship and Emerging Trends,” in Accra.

The two-day event which is aimed at strengthening economic ties between Africa and India, focused on five important areas: India-West Africa: Towards an Enduring Partnership; Enhanced Economic Engagement; India-West Africa Development Partnership: Past Experience and Future Prospects; Multilateral and Regional Engagements and India- Ghana: What the Future Holds.

A statement signed by Donald Gwira, Head– Corporate Communications and External Affairs of Airtel Ghana said the high level representatives who made presentations during the sub-theme: “Enhanced Economic Engagement,” were drawn from Africa and India.

Mr Gwira said Ghana’s trade with India has crossed a $1 billion mark for the first time since both countries started trading. He also outlined some of India’s exports to Ghana which includes Telecommunications, Agricultural Machinery, Electricity Equipment, Plastic, Steel and Cement.

Nigeria: MTN partner with JMG in $9mln power project

Telecoms giant, MTN Nigeria has contracted FG Wilson Nigerian representative, JMG in a $9 million project to upgrade power capacity for its mobile communications network. The deal will see JMG, which is the largest distributor among FG Wilson’s global network of 370 representatives, supply and install 12 high capacity FG Wilson generators including six 2,000kVA, three 1,500kVA and three 1,250 kVA generator sets.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, provides an average of only 4500 MW of power to its over 167 million peoples. Its power sector began deteriorating in the 1990s which forced government to privatize the Nigerian Power Holding Company (NPHC) this year.

However, JMG officials are upbeat about the impact of the $9 million power project on MTN’s capacity.

China committed to fruitful relations with Ghana’

Mr Gong Jianzhong, Ambassador of China, says his country is committed to fruitful bilateral relations with Ghana. “Recent years have witnessed sustained development of bilateral relations and economic cooperation between China and Ghana.”

Mr Jianzhong, said this at the commissioning of a new plant of Sanbao Ghana Pharmaceuticals Limited in Tema. He said the occasion marked one more inspiring event, concerning cooperation between the two countries. “Sanbao has now provided 200 jobs for Ghanaians, and 500 more jobs would be added in coming years.” Mr Jianzhong continued, “The Chinese government would continue to encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Ghana, to create more job opportunities for Ghanaians’.

Kenya: New law to allow to claim 10% stake in mining operations

The Kenyan government said it plans to obtain 10 percent stake in significant mining concessions under a new law aimed at generating more funds from the sector.

Earlier this year, East Africa’s largest economy announced that it had increased royalties on minerals produced in the country in its quest to increase its share of earnings in the sector, saying it conformed to best practices, Reuters reported.

The country’s Mining Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala, explained that the planned law was part of revenue strategy to increase funds generated from its relatively modest and undeveloped mining sector. He however did not give details on the concessions, or if it would affect existing mining licences.

Though considered the most industrially developed economy in East Africa, successive Kenyan governments have failed to fully exploit the country’s mining potential. Foreign mining companies have also been discouraged by poor infrastructure and an outdated legal framework. However, the sector seems to be experiencing a level resurgence lately.

Earlier this month, Australian miner, Base Resources, started mining at its long-delayed Kenya titanium project and said it expected to start exporting minerals in December. Also, a subsidiary of Canada-based minerals and metals firm, Pacific Wildcat Resources is scouring the country’s coastal region for niobium, a mineral used to strengthen steel and make alloys for jet engines.

Invest in Ghana’s economy — Amissah-Arthur

The Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, has appealed to Ghana’s friends to invest directly in the local economy. Mr Amissah-Arthur made the appeal when a seven-member delegation from the Czech Republic called on him at the Flagstaff House in Accra on Saturday, 19th of October.

He said the government was pursuing vigorous policies and programmes to improve the economy, and make Ghana a better place to live in. “We are interested in the growth of the economy. We believe this is how we can guarantee economic stability and improve the lives of our people,” he said.

Trade relations between Ghana and the Czech Republic date back to 1960, when a trade agreement was signed between Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Antonín Novotný, then the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.

The Czech Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Jan Kohout said, “We have traditional and economic relationships, and as partners, we want to seek new ways of developing both countries.” He added that the Czech Republic was interested in investing in the energy, transport and agricultural sectors, adding that it wanted “a real opportunity in Ghana that will be beneficial to all”. Mr Kohout commended Ghana’s burgeoning democracy and said “we see Ghana as a stable and safe democratic country to invest in on the African continent. We appreciate the peace and stability in the country.”

Zimbabwe: U.S $5 Billion needed for platinum expansion

Zimbabwe investment of as much as $5.3 billion and stable mining policies if the country is to boost platinum output to rival Russia as the world’s second-biggest producer of the metal, an industry organisation said.

To increase production to the more than 500,000 ounces per annum needed to justify the construction of base and precious metal smelters and refineries, investment of $2.8 billion is needed in mines. In addition, as much as $2 billion in processing plants and between $200 and $500 million to ensure adequate power supply, the Chamber of Mines said in a report.

“It’s evident from 2017 onward Zimbabwe’s production of platinum will be approaching that of Russia,” the Chamber said. “This growth projection, however, requires significant investment.”

While mines operated by Impala Platinum Holdings, Anglo American Platinum Ltd and Aquarius Platinum will this year produce about 365,000 ounces of the precious metal, investment has been hindered by power shortages and a government demand that control of assets be ceded to the state or black Zimbabweans.

South Africa: Allan Gray becomes No.1 fund manager

Fund manager, Allan Gray, has replaced its main competitor in the South African market, Coronation Fund, as the number one manager of collective investments in the country.

This is according to the latest survey by PlexiCrown Fund Ratings and this latest result means the Cape Town-based Coronation Fund is now the second biggest investment fund in South Africa.

The survey has also revealed that the Stellenbosch-based PSG has substituted Nedgroup as the third biggest manager of collective investments in South Africa. It pushed Nedgroup to the fourth place in the rankings.

Allan Gray attained a total average score of 4.528 points (known as PlexiCrowns) for the high achievement of its funds in the three months to end of last month.

Ryk de Klerk, executive director of PlexCrown Fund Ratings, said the Allan Gray-Orbis Global Fund of Funds, the Bond Fund and the Allan Gray-Orbis Global Equity Feeder Fund were leading in their in their sub-categories. These funds all belong to Africa’s second richest man, Allan Gray. “Five (71 percent) of the investment house’s rated funds achieved above-average ratings of four or more PlexCrowns,” de Klerk told Personal Finance.

Liberia: Johnson-Sirleaf wants more French investments

Ahead of the departure of French Ambassador to Liberia Mr. Gerard Larome, one regret that the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has been that there has been not much French investment in the country with the exception of the Total service stations across the country.

But President Sirleaf said the fact that Ambassador Larome planned to return to Liberia and to attract French businesses to the country was a good signal, as she looked forward to his return in the coming months.

The outgoing French envoy last Thursday paid a farewell call on President Sirleaf at her Congo Town residence, when he informed her that he will depart on October 23. The Executive Mansion says Ambassador Larome’s successor will arrive shortly thereafter. Mr. Larome presented his Letters of Credence to President Sirleaf on December 2009, as French Ambassador accredited to Liberia.

Because of him, the President said, she had photographs of herself with three French Presidents, including Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the most recent being President François Hollande who, in November 2012, bestowed upon her France’s highest award and public distinction, the Grand Croix of the Légion d’Honneur.

Ghana: Cocoa producer price still GH¢3,392

Government has maintained the producer price of cocoa at GH¢3,392 per tone, representing 79.17 per cent of the net Free on Board Price, despite the falling world prices of the commodity. The price, which translates into 212 per bag of 64 kilogram, takes effect from the beginning of the 2013/14 season on October 18, 2013.

Cassiel Ato Forson, Deputy Minister of Finance, who made this known at a press conference in Accra, said the current price was higher and more competitive than the farm gate price of GH¢43,224 being paid to farmers in La Côte d’Ivoire.

Mr Forson said government’s ability to maintain the price at current levels was a demonstration of its commitment to the non-oil sector, especially agriculture, and for that matter, Cocoa, which has been the backbone of the country’s economy.

The country produced 835,410 tonnes of cocoa during the 2012/13 season and forecast a total production of 830,000 for the 2013/14 season.

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Kenya: Standard Bank, ICBC raise $108m debt facility heavy fuel plant

Standard Bank Group and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have concluded a $108 million debt financing package with Triumph Kenya to construct a 83MW heavy fuel oil plant in the east African nation. As mandated co-lead arrangers, CfC Stanbic Bank, a member of Standard Bank Group, provided $28 million of debt funding while ICBC supplied $80 million. The ICBC finance portion will be for the plant, currently being built 25km from Nairobi.

Kenya Power also signed a 20-year agreement with Triumph to purchase power from the plant, which will be a crucial supplier to the utility during times of drought when the country’s hydroelectric generating capacity becomes constrained.

The World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) will provide $102.5 million in breach of contract insurance should Kenya Power fail to honour its 20-year power purchase agreement with Triumph. MIGA’s insurance will also cover the Government of Kenya’s obligations under the Government of Kenya Letter of Support.

Kenya has historically relied on hydropower for most of its electricity needs and has a current installed generating capacity of 1,672 MW, compared with peak power demand of 1,330 MW. The nation’s economy has expanded at an average rate of 4-5 percent over the last 3 years.

Africa: Middle-income status is not bye bye poverty

Transitioning to middle-income status does not signal the end of poverty as the majority of the world’s poor still live in middle-income countries, the World Bank and the IMF have said at their latest Development Committee meeting, a forum that advises the two institutions.

In many developing countries, growth has been accompanied by rising inequality,” a communiqué from the meeting said, warning that if countries do not sustain the building of “shared prosperity”, growth will eventually be obstructed — causing instability and reducing upward mobility. “Job-creation, especially for youth and women, and private sector development are key for inclusive growth,” the meeting agreed.

Middle-income countries — defined as nations with a per capita gross national income of US$1,026 to US$12,475 — account for one-third of global GDP and 73 percent of the world’s poor people. (Ghana, with a per capita income of US$1,563, is considered among lower middle-income countries.)

The World Bank Group has in recent times been warning about growth in developing countries not impacting ordinary citizens, particularly in Africa — one of the fastest-growing regions of the world. In its latest edition of Africa’s Pulse, a twice-yearly analysis of the issues that are shaping Africa’s economic prospects, the bank said inequality in Africa remains “unacceptably high and the rate of reduction unacceptably slow”.

To ensure Africa’s growth benefits its people, the bank advises that more attention should be paid to areas like agriculture, where the poor are mostly found. It also endorses social safety nets, like direct cash transfers to the most vulnerable segments of society.

Nigeria: Fitch rates economy stable

Fitch Ratings, an international independent rating agency, rated Nigeria’s economic outlook as stable. The agency also affirmed the country’s long-term foreign and local currency IDRs and senior unsecured bond ratings at ‘BB-‘ and ‘BB’ respectively, while the short-term foreign currency IDR was rated ‘B’ and Country Ceiling at ‘BB-‘. This vote of confidence on the prospects of the Nigerian economy is coming a few days after another respected international rating agency, Standard & Poor’s also affirmed a strong and positive rating for the management of the economy.

According to the agency, the affirmation reflects the following key rating drivers, a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.4 per cent in the first half of 2013, noting that though lower than the level in 2012, the country showed resilience in the face of exogenous shocks.

The agency noted the non-oil economy had slowed but still grew by 7.9 per cent in 2012 and 7.6 per cent in the first half of 2013. The agency expressed optimism that non-oil growth should pick up in the second half of 2013, as normal weather had resumed and the authorities had responded to the security problems. Reforms to the electricity and agriculture sectors could start to boost potential growth.

Other key drivers of the rating, as highlighted by the agency, included inflation rate, which had remained in single digits all year – the lowest in five years and the longest stretch of single digit inflation since 2008. Also, policy rates were unchanged and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had the twin aims of achieving single-digit inflation and maintaining exchange rate stability. Fitch also adjudged public finances as remaining comfortable and estimated a general government deficit of around 1.8 per cent of GDP this year and next.

Ghana: Fitch downgrades … From B+ to B

Fitch has downgraded Ghana from a B to a B, largely because of the government’s difficulty in managing the rising wage bill and of the increased debt to GDP ratio pose short-term challenges to the economy. Ghana was put on a B (negative) outlook in February this year and has since been under continuous assessment by Fitch, which had expressed concern over several factors affecting the short-term health of Ghana’s economy.

While experts recognise Ghana’s bright prospects in the medium term, it is believed that the government will struggle with controlling the fiscal situation over the next 18 months.

The outlook for post-2015 looks much better,” a sources,close to the rating agency, said, citing Ghana’s removal of subsidies on petroleum products as helping the fiscal situation, but continued subsidies on utilities, especially power, posed challenges for fiscal stability and growth going forward.

South Africa: Eskom wins R1.3 billion French solar loan

France is to lend €100-million (R1.3-billion) to South African state company Eskom to help finance a 100 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power plant near Upington in the Northern Cape. Eskom and the French Development Agency (AFD) agreed, during French President Francois Hollande’s state visit to South Africa, to facilitate the signing of the loan.

Eskom chief executive Brian Dames said in a statement that the Upington CSP project, one of Eskom’s first commercial-scale renewable energy projects outside of its existing hydro portfolio, “puts us on a path towards reducing our carbon footprint and investing in a sustainable energy future”. The Upington CSP project is expected to deliver an annual energy production of 525 GWh and will be sufficient to power 200 000 homes.

Ghana: Government to review utility tariff hikes

With worries over the tariff increment, President John Mahama has announced that government has set up a technical committee to review the recently announced tariff hikes. The technical team will consider the issue and make recommendations to government in order to avert threats and ultimatums issued by organized labour since the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURC) announced the increases a fortnight ago. President Mahama who was speaking at the launch of the 4th Ghana Policy Fair appealed to the organized labour groups to withdraw their ultimatum while government attempts to deal with the issue.

Nigeria: Agreements establishment of local transformer assembly plant

As part of its 4Africa Initiative, Microsoft Corporation has announced the expansion of the Microsoft Ventures partnership programme into Africa. Microsoft Ventures was introduced in June this year as a coordinated global effort to offer tools, resources, expertise and routes to market for startups through partnerships with accelerators around the world.

The company has selected 88mph as its first African accelerator partner. 88mph was chosen for its proven model of helping launch and secure funding for innovative African startups. Together, Microsoft and 88mph will work to provide startups with mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding, joint selling opportunities and more.

Microsoft Ventures takes a holistic approach to helping startups get off the ground through a community evangelism programme including Microsoft BizSpark, an accelerator program and a seed fund that works with startups worldwide.

The expansion into Africa was conducted as part of the recently launched Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative and will therefore prioritise startups in key sectors including agriculture, education and healthcare. Startups will be selected based on the globally established criteria of Microsoft Ventures: Applying companies must have a full-time founding team, a bold vision for tackling a real problem, technologically driven solutions and less than $1 million raised, Microsoft International said.

Ghana: Atuabo gas project 72% complete

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Gas Company, Dr. George Sipa Yankey, says 72 percent works on the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development project ongoing at Atuabo in the Western Region is complete. He said although the project would not be completed as scheduled in December due to initial financial constraints and loss of some construction materials in turbulent sea in South Africa early this month, his outfit was hopeful that the project would be completed by March next year.

Dr. Yankey said frequent meetings would be held by partners in the petroleum industry, especially those in the management chain, to share information on the project in order to increase understanding and transparency. He noted that the implementers of the project had assembled the best companies in the petroleum industry from Aecom in the US, Thermo Design Engineering from Canada, Yokogawa from Japan, Technip from France and Worley Parson from the United Kingdom to support Sinopec of China to complete the project.

He maintains that the gas infrastructure project was important to the development aspirations of the country since it would half the $3million dollars the VRA spent in purchasing crude oil daily for power generation.

Kenya: Coca-Cola increases stake in juice franchise

Coca-Cola Export Corporation has increased its stake in Kenyan subsidiary, Coca-Cola Juices Kenya Limited (CCJK), to 66.03 percent through bottling companies that sell its products in the region after local shareholders failed to participate fully in a rights issue. A report by Kenya’s Competition Authority’s Director General, Wang’ombe Kariuki, confirmed this saying: “The Competition Authority authorises the proposed acquisition of 66.03 percent of the issued shares of Coca-Cola Juices Kenya Limited by the Coca-Cola Export Corporation”.

The remaining 37.07 percent stake belongs to local shareholders including bottling firm like Kisii Bottlers, Mount Kenya Bottlers, Rift Valley Bottlers, Coast Bottlers and Nairobi Bottlers.

In the past, Coca-Cola functioned as a marketing support company to CCJK, leaving the production and supply function of its soda brands to the bottling firms. However, with the additional stakes acquired, the beverage company will deepen its role beyond publicity as the deal gives it full control of the local juice company.

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Nigeria: Federal Government woos Brazilians to invest in power

To ensure rapid development of electricity distribution, the Federal Government has appealed to the Brazilian Government to invest in Nigeria’s power sector with a view to revamping the ailing sector. The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo who said this while receiving a Brazilian delegation led by Vice-Minister of Development, Industry and International Trade, Mr. Ricardo Shaefer, said the government needs assistance from around the world to revamp the ailing power sector.

The minister also requested for synergy and co-operation of the Brazilians in Nigeria’s quest to ensure all her nationals are connected to electricity. He said that “Brazil has done well in many aspects of electricity especially in big hydro, biomass, solar, wind and coal. Nigeria intends to learn from the experience of Brazil, as the country has already leap frog in the attainment of development goals.”

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Amb. Godknows Igali, said that opportunities in the power sector is in mega dimension. He added that the nation’s target of moving from over 4,000 mega watts to 40,000MW in the next seven years would require double efforts from Nigeria’s friends abroad.

South Africa: French firms urged to collaborate

French and South African companies have been encouraged to work together on the industrialisation of South Africa and the African continent. Speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of the state visit by French President Francois Hollande on Monday, 14th October, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said that although France was among the country’s top five partners in the European Union (EU), a lot more still needed to be done.

France is among South Africa’s top 10 trading partners. The two countries have significant and sizeable trade and investment relations.

Davies said that what needed to be improved were partnerships between the two countries on industrialisation. He said the African continent was recognised as one of the growing frontiers in the world and that the African region needed to integrate.

South Africa is engaged in a massive infrastructure programme, with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) having also set up infrastructure programmes, and these should form the basis for industrialisation, Davies said.

Ghana: Cocoa products are safe

The Minister of Trade and Indusry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has assured the members of the European Union that government would always support measures designed to achieve a high level of health protection in foodstuffs, particularly for the most fragile segments of the population. He said the Ghana Government has been following keenly, ongoing discussions within the European Union with a view to amending various regulations which seeks to set maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs.

Addressing the ministers and officials at the 12 Joint Session of the ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee in Brussels Mr Iddrisu said ‘While recognising the right of the institutions of the EC to take measures to protect human health, my country, and for that matter, the ACP Group, is of the considered opinion that there is the need to ensure proper balance between the necessary and appropriate levels of health protection and the minimum negative impact.

Zimbabwe: Nation to have new diamond miner

The Government has granted a licence to Global Diamond Trekkers to explore for the gems in the Middle Sabi area of Manicaland province, about 100 km south east of the Chiadzwa fields. According to a statement issued by the company, it was given permission to investigate the potential for mining diamonds in the Middle Sabi area. The alluvial diamond concession lies in the Middle Sabi valley, about 167 km south of Mutare in Manicaland province.

Global Diamond Trekkers said it had since engaged a consultancy firm to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project. The company will in the short term conduct an exploration exercise to determine the extent of the resources. Thereafter it would seek compliance with industry regulator the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.

Zimbabwe is a notable diamond producer with huge reserves of the mineral especially in the Marange area. The five joint-venture mines in Marange produced a combined eight million carats of the gems last year and generated at least US$684 million in exports.

Industry experts say Zimbabwe has the potential to account for at least 25 percent of global production by the end of the decade.

Nigeria: To take ICT investment drive to Silicon Valley

The Ministry of Communication Technology is holding a Silicon Valley Investment Forum in San Francisco, United States of America (USA), to showcase the untapped potential of the Nigerian ICT sector – its success stories and investment opportunities to the global community.

The three-day forum will showcase the development of Nigeria’s technology sector including policy, economic development and individual success stories of start-ups in the country.

The aim of the forum is to further highlight the potential of the Nigerian ICT sector and increase exposure of ideation and innovation in Nigeria. The forum will showcase Nigeria’s Innovation drive and success stories of start-ups like Jumia, Co Creation Hub, Venia Business Hub,, Interswitch, Paga etc. Also, a new report on Nigeria’s ICT sector by the Oxford Business Group will be circulated at the forum.

The Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, will speak on the potential of the Nigerian ICT sector and initiatives of the Ministry to accelerate the growth of the sector.

Ethiopia: Growth is impressive – African Development Bank

Ethiopia’s strong, decade-long economic growth made it possible for the country to be on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals says the African Development Bank (AfDB).

In its latest publication “AfDB and Ethiopia – Partnering for Inclusive Growth” the Bank point to huge investment in infrastructure and commercialization of agriculture as major causes for the average 11% annual growth over the past nine years, making Ethiopia the biggest economy in East Africa.

The Bank lauded the government’s development policy that lead to broad based growth and a considerable reduction in poverty, noting pro-poor policies accounted for 69% of expenditure in the 2011-12 budget year alone.

Prudent monetary policies brought inflation down to 7.7% in 2013 from a high of 40% in mid-2011. The Bank underlines its commitment to continue partnership with Ethiopia, aligning its country strategy with the Growth and Transformation Plan.

It notes “the government of Ethiopia’s key development objective is to achieve inclusive, accelerated and sustained economic growth and to eradicate poverty” and expresses the Bank’s strong conviction of the prospects of Ethiopia’s development.

The Bank’s country strategy principles included alignment with the Growth and transformation Plan, prioritizing infrastructure, regional integration, governance and private sector development and supporting the East African Integration strategy. The Bank has therefore supported the Ethio-Djibouti Electric Power Interconnection Project, the Ethio-Kenya Electric Highway project, the Mombasa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa Road Corridor and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program.

Since it joined the African Development Bank Group in 1964, Ethiopia has benefitted from loans and grants to the tune of US$3.75 billion, making it the sixth largest beneficiary in the continent.

Nigeria: Africa insurance market offers growth prospects

Despite the challenges in Africa, experts believe that Africa’s insurance and reinsurance markets offer potential for growth. According to a report by A.M Best Rating Company, insurance penetration in Africa is growing, but from a very low base, but in certain countries, given the economic development in the region.

The report stated that each country has different drivers for heightened insurance demand, ranging from economies dominated by the oil and gas and mining industries, to large populations. Accordingly, insurance market growth in recent years has also been characterised by an increase in the number of direct partnerships between businesses in Africa with others internationally.

South Africa: CoAL to invest $22.1m in Vele Colliery expansion

JSE-listed Coal of Africa (CoAL) said its board has agreed to a R220 million ($22.1m) extension of the Vele Colliery, located in the north of South Africa. The Vele Colliery spreads across ten farms with 8,663ha of land. Owned by Limpopo Coal Company, CoAL Africa has an 80 percent shareholding in Limpopo Coal’s shares. Eyesizwe Coal holds the outstanding 20 percent. The development aligns with the firm’s plan to focus on coking coal properties.

According to the company, the board’s approval came after the assessment and endorsement of Vele coal quality in August this year.

The firm has started raising money and this exercise will be completed by the end of March next year. After this, the firm will increase operations at the colliery in 2015, and the colliery will be in full swing at the close of that year.

South Sudan: Korean millionaires to invest

South Sudan will soon witness a number of investors from Korea coming willingly to invest in diverse natural resources in the country. The government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has already embarked on serious discussions on how these millionaires will be handled when they arrive in the country.

The head of Korean mission in Uganda, Park Jong Dae confirmed that the millionaires will arrive as soon as the necessary arrangements are completed. He said South Sudan has a promising investment potential and the Korean millionaires are interested to invest there.

He also said he will be leaving shortly for Juba to see how the Korean peace keepers can introduce new programs to improve its developmental service to South Sudan. The envoy disclosed all this after a meeting with the minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, while in Kampala.

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IS THIS WHAT WE BARGAINED FOR? (Ghana: Independence and after)

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By Akwasi Agyeman-Dua (Local Journalist & Media and Advocacy Advisor)

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COLONIALISM COULD’NT GO on forever. It definitely had to fall elsewhere and in Africa. The old order always changes giving place to new. Ghana’s independence heralded ‘the wind of change’ that swept through Africa and brought independence in the 1960’s to many more African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya and others. In Ghana, two political statements which gained prominence among others during the struggle were, “Self-government now” and “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all other things shall be added unto it”. The records have not proved us right on the second score, I believe.

The fight against colonialism started long before Kwame Nkrumah joined it and ultimately took over the mantle of leadership and helped the country to attain independence on March 6, 1957. The hopes and aspirations of the people had been great and strong over the years. Earlier freedom fighters had included J.E. Casely Hayford, Mensah Sarbah, J.B. Danquah, some chiefs and intelligentsia.

Fifty-six years after independence, it is very appropriate to review the last fifty years and to try to forecast the next fifty years. As has been noted, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. Added to this could be the Biblical passage which says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Like all nations and groups of people on planet Earth, Ghana and Ghanaians have had their fair share of tribulations and triumphs, high points and low points.

One would have expected that the numerous changes of governments could lead to greater development for Ghana. After all what haven’t politicians with their mouths and soldiers with their guns, promised my dear countrymen and women? Has the struggle for self-government been worth-while?

National anthems, coat of arms, mottos and slogans are all ways and means of conditioning people’s minds to a set of core values which can help galvanize them into responsible action. Ghana at independence in 1957 chose as its motto, “Freedom and Justice”. Two very strong words. Who ever suggested them must be found, congratulated and honoured. It seems the name of the person was not put on record for historical purposes.

Ghana and Ghanaians don’t have the luxury of time like some developed nations have had over the years. Beside it is known that some nations have tried to develop within a relatively shorter time. There are examples in Asia and Southern America. We also currently have the benefit of improved science and technology which can help us catch up on development. Much time and resources have been wasted in Ghana and Africa which have contributed to our current state of affairs. This shameful situation must end.

We need a new Ghanaian with renewed values and attitudes. The new Ghanaian who would think more about the general good rather than parochial, selfish interests. We must not let the sacrifices of our forbears and that of patriotic compatriots, dead or alive, be in vain. Let us see the true meaning of the country’s motto of Freedom and Justice. Freedom we seem to have had in abundance. Let’s now see true Justice in every sphere of our national life. Let’s have Law and Order. Let the Rule of Law and Love prevail. With God, ‘we can truly make our nation great and strong’, as captured in the words of Ghana’s national anthem.

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Africa Focused News


by Dario Galluccio

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Africa shows interest in Zimbabwe

Fellow African countries are continuing to show keen interest in bringing their investments into Zimbabwe, an investment expert has said. Traditionally, Asian and European countries have been known to invest in Zimbabwe. Imara Zimbabwe executive director Mr Tino Kambasha told that large African capital firms are now showing a lot of interest in the country. He added that the fact is that one cannot ignore Zimbabwe and its large consumer base anymore as many equity fund managers are eager to explore opportunities for strong capital growth and high equity yields.

A Kenyan private equity firm, Fanisi Capital, announced recently that it will launch its second fund of US$100 million to be invested in new markets across Southern Africa before the end of next year, a company official said. Botswana Stock Exchange-listed retail group Choppies Enterprises last week announced the acquisition of 49 percent of an unnamed Zimbabwean supermarket chain comprising 10 stores.

Ghana: Mumuadu Rural Bank doubles profit

Mumuadu Rural Bank, with its headquarters at Osino in the Eastern Region, last year recorded an after-tax profit of GH¢1,146,040, as against GH¢681,164 made in 2011, an increase of 95.47per cent. Deposits also rose from GH¢13,685,229.70 to GH¢17,785,105.35 (29.95 per cent) while investments rose from GH¢3,536,092.65 to GH¢3,709,715.06 within the same period. Such gains, especially profit, according to the chairman of the Board of Directors of the bank, Mr Seth Adom-Asomaning, made it possible to increase loans and advances from GH¢9,843,500 to GH¢14,270,526 in the year under review.

Africa: Tourism to boom

Africa’s tourism sector is set to boost economic growth, create new jobs and outpace other regions for new tourism investments. A World Bank report, which made this known, indicated that Africa’s tourism industry is expected to directly employ 6.7 million people in the region by 2021. Sub-Saharan Africa, it noted, earned over $36 billion from tourist visits in 2012 accounting for 2.8 percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Themed, ‘Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods,’ it said the continent attracted 33.8 million visitors in 2012, up from a low of 6.7 million in 1990.

The report said tourism accounted directly or indirectly for one in every 20 jobs in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011, and is one of the few industries on the continent in which women are well represented as employees and managers.

Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa, said Africa’s private companies are increasingly attracting regional and international investment and the returns on investment in Africa are among the highest in the world. He advised African governments to improve transport, electricity, infrastructure and other key services to develop tourism for more broad-based growth and improved livelihoods.

The report highlighted the potential of African countries to improve and expand their tourism sector, and suggested that 33 of sub-Sahara Africa’s 48 countries currently have the capacity for tourism success through establishing strong political support for developing the industry and attracting increased private investment to help finance and sustain it.

The report said African countries can compete with other tourist-rich regions of the world if they can effectively plan for and integrate tourism into their economies.

Ghana: Citizens Rural Bank records impressive gains

The Citizens Rural Bank, Nsawam, last year recorded a profit before tax of GH¢ 137,532.00 as against GH¢ 50,796 in 2011, showing a 100 percent increase. Mr Emmanuel Yevenyo, Acting Chairman of the Board of Directors, disclosed this at the Fourth Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Bank at Nsawam at the weekend. The bank’s asset book stood at GH¢ 2,260,329.00 from GH¢ 1,232,205.00 in 2011. Mr Yevenyo said the bank’s customer deposit saw a slight improvement from GH¢ 1,109,364.00 to GH¢ 1,975,351.00.

Mr Yevenyo said out of the 137 rural banks operating in Ghana, the Citizens Rural Bank was at the 41st position saying it could do better. Mr Kwadwo Aye Kusi, Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, advised the bank to put in place pragmatic and realistic programmes and policies such as risk management, staff training and product development and customer service to ensure its sustainability.

Nigeria: Oando receives $815m offer for ConocoPhillips buyout

Pan-African energy corporation, Oando Inc., says it has received credit facility offers of up to $815 million for the buyout of ConocoPhillips’ $1.790 billion worth Nigerian onshore assets. The American energy company had agreed to sell its Nigerian operations to Oando December last year, after 46 years of operation in the oil-rich West African country.

According to a Newswire, the Lagos-headquartered company, which already made an initial deposit of $400 million to ConocoPhillips, said the loan support would comprise a $465 million Reserve Based Lending Facility made by BNP Paribas, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered Bank; and another $350 million Senior Secured Loan, jointly arranged by First Bank Capital and First City Monument Capital.

Commenting on the offers, Chief Executive Officer of Oando, Pade Durotoye said they were significant steps towards the buyout adding that the company “will now proceed to the final stage of concluding the financing required for the purchase.”

Considered as Nigeria’s leading integrated energy solutions providers, Oando engages in every aspect of the energy value chain, from exploration, production to marketing, distribution and power generation.

Ghana: Government optimistic meeting revenue targets

Government is optimistic of meeting revenue targets with new tax hikes despite present difficulties with collection of the taxies. Government is basing its optimism on business activities that picked up in the last quarter of this year.

In August this year, government introduced three new taxes to address revenue shortfalls. These include the National Stabilization Levy and Customs and Excise Bill – however the third bill, Special Import Bill, is yet to be laid before Parliament.

The state has so far been able to collect GH¢ 25 million from the GH¢ 371 million revenue target. There are fears the country might not realize the revenue target because of a slowdown in business activities, as well as smuggling activities at the ports; but Deputy Minister of Finance, Kweku Ricketts-Hagan said the Ministry has instituted measures to ensure the GH¢ 371 million target is realised.

“Taxes may be the main revenue stream but there are other revenue streams as huge as taxes that also come – so it becomes a case of prioritinsing your expenditure”, he said.

Meanwhile, banks, mining firms, telcos and other financial institutions would by the end of this month be giving away 5% of their profits as Stabilization Levy.

Nigeria: Total to fund contractors under $7.5Bn initiative

Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, in partnership with 8 banks have launched a $7.5 billion Nigerian Contractors’ Initiative (NCI) to create a sustainable funding channel for the energy giants’ local contractors.

Based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is in line with the Nigerian local content policy, the contractors, which include vendors and suppliers, will sufficiently receive capital which also will be domiciled with the partnering banks. Total MD/CEO Mr. Guy Maurice, said over the weekend the MoU provides for sustainable funding relationship between the banks and Total’s indigenous contractors.

Mr. Jibril Aku, the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, one of the partnering banks, explained the finance programme would help sustain the contractors and help them play a more active role in the oil and gas sector.

The partnering lenders for the NCI include Ecobank Nigeria, Zenith Bank, Diamond Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Standard Chartered Bank, Access Bank and Fidelity Bank.

Ethiopia: To launch Eurobond

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn says his country is planning to launch a Eurobond once it secures its credit rating, but it will not open its telecoms and banking sectors to foreigners as revenue drawn from both sectors helps fund development of infrastructure.

Foreign appetite for African bonds has been strong as investors scramble for high yields. However, Prime Minister Desalegn’s declaration may disappoint foreign investors who had hoped for a paradigm shift from the state-led policies of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died last August.

The Prime Minister told journalists that he would stick to a policy that has kept the telecoms monopoly in state hands and the banking sector – dominated by three state institutions – off limits to foreigners, as income or financing from those entities is being used to develop the country’s infrastructure. Dasalegn also said that the East African nation is willing to harness the international debt market by issuing an external bond to relieve the country’s foreign currency shortage.

According to him, Ethiopia will also launch other bonds alongside Eurobond.

Although Prime Minister Desalegn did not give an exact date on when the country will get a credit rating, he hinted that it is at a critical stage alongside the issuance of the bond. A credit rating allows countries to access funds outside their country. The possession of a good credit rating attracts Foreign Direct Investment because it gives investors information about the economic stability of the country they are investing in.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Abraham Tekeste said the Ethiopian economy grew by 9.7% in the past fiscal year. Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth largest economy, expects FDI of about $2 billion a year through 2015.

Zambia: More investors target mining sector

Several Chinese investors have expressed interest in investing in Zambia’s mining sector through the United Nations (UN) South-South Cooperation initiative, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Emmanuel Chenda has said.

Mr Chenda said in an interview that on the sidelines of the recently held UN General Assembly in the United States of America (USA), he met with several potential investors, among them Chinese, who expressed interest in setting up mineral exploration ventures in Zambia.

Meanwhile, Mr Chenda said the benefits of Government’s intervention to remove the subsidy on fossil fuels has started paying off as a number of other renewable forms of energy are being identified. The minister reiterated that maintaining the subsidy on fuel could have negatively affected the country’s capacity to generate energy from other sources.